Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, says Nigeria should prioritise and strengthen public health institutions, saying indigenes who can’t afford medical treatment overseas don’t deserve to die.
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The Governor stated during the inspection of the ongoing construction work at the multibillion-naira Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre; the Basic Clinical Sciences and Clinical Sciences, the Renal and Pathology Departments of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, on Saturday.
The governor maintained that it was the primary responsibility of any government to ensure equitable access to basic health care for its citizens, especially the poor and the most vulnerable in society.
The governor said the state government’s huge investment in the tertiary hospital and public health infrastructure was aimed at making the state the hub for medical tourism in the country.
He remarked that any government that recognised the centrality of public health and its critical role in nation-building would, as a priority, strengthen public health institutions so that those who could not afford to seek medical treatment overseas would not die.
Wike said, “How many people can afford travelling overseas? We have all it takes to improve on our health sector, to provide the necessary facilities.
“We have our doctors; all we need to do is train and retrain them. Look at Government House Hospital (Port Harcourt), look at how people troop in there, because the basic facilities are there and the doctors are willing and committed to work because of the environment they have found themselves in.
“If you give our people the required environment and the facilities, as well as the tools to work, there would be no need for us to be travelling overseas. When people come to Government House Clinic, they look at the facilities and say is it not what we see overseas. We can replicate it here in Nigeria.”
Wike said the government must make it a priority to provide incentives and create an enabling environment that would ensure that doctors and other medical experts do their jobs well.
“My own motivation is that if I have the opportunity to travel overseas, what about others who do not have the opportunity? Must they die simply because they don’t have opportunities? It is the obligation of the government to make sure that our citizens are given the best in terms of protecting their lives. It is the responsibility of the government to protect lives.
“So, for me, it is our responsibility and we must do everything we can to see that we save the lives of our people by making sure that our health care delivery system is working and the doctors are also given the best for them to work.”
Wike described the quality of work at the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, as very satisfactory.
He commended the contractor, Julius Berger, for working assiduously to meet the deadline for the completion of the project.